You and I are, if we follow Jesus, currently living out Act IV, waiting for a promised Act V in which all things will be made new by Jesus when the reign of God comes to all the earth. We can live into this reality now as we follow Jesus, partnering with him as we come into the fullness of our adoption and learning to make present the Reign of God for others right now, completing the full circuit of discipleship.
The invitation of Jesus—and the only way out of the wrongs done to us and the wrong we’ve done and into redemption—is to trust God rather than continuing to seek our own ways of being powerful. In other words, the way we come to God is not through the size of our bank account or our good looks, not through any intelligence or cleverness, not even through fervor or religious zeal. It’s through humility. The way of the world is to “put our best foot forward” and “make a good first impression.” All things considered, these aren’t bad skills to possess. How strange, though—and perfect—that we don’t come to Godby having it all together, but by acknowledging all the ways in which we do NOT have it together. Everyone comes, at some point, to this place of self-knowledge, though if you are rich or wildly successful, perhaps you’ll be able to ignore it, to the detriment of your soul. Read the Bible for any length of time and you’ll see it’s full of people (and only full of people) who miss the mark and fail spectacularly. The message is clear: we don’t come to God through our strength, but through our weakness. We come not through our successes, but through our mistakes and failures and limitations. Not through our riches, but through our poverty. These are the doors to humility by which we can bow ourselves before the living God of mercy. This is a scandal in a world hell-bent on being (or at least appearing) competent and successful. It takes tremendous humility and character to come to God through our weakness and say “yes” back to His acceptance of us. To “delight” and “take pleasure” in our weakness. In a world obsessed with power and terrified of death, this sounds like craziness, as Paul himself says.
As we read the Scripture and each of these four acts, we see that the meta-narrative of the Bible basically reflects the potential of our lives before and after knowing Jesus. In other words, we can find ourselves in the story. We can see our desire to be in control, like Adam and Eve. We can identify painful things that have been done to us, as in the Exodus. We can see ourselves in the grumbling of the Hebrews in the desert, reticent to trust God. We can find ourselves in the nation of Israel, clinging to the worshipof false gods over trusting the Living God, as we read in the Exile Narrative. And we can see ourselves as those invited to taste and be utterly consumed by the grace of God’s love. We can learn to heed the invitation not only to accept Jesus, but to follow him into a new way of living, rooted in trust rather than in the need to feel or appear powerful on our own.
As we read the Scripture, we are invited into deep and abiding union with the God who loves us and who wants to love the world through us. But it takes tremendous humility and character to read Scripture in this way. Many people are more comfortable reading Scripture in order to get information, which does not necessarily have any bearing on transformation. Other people read just to be right. Indeed, in many churches the “good news of being right” often supplants the good news of Christ Jesus. But if you read Scripture to discover just how generous God is, and how vulnerable He has made Himself in pursuing us, then you can enter into His story and find that encountering the God of Scripture transforms you.
For all of these readings in one place, order my book 'Learning to Live and Love Like Jesus.'